Monday, October 31, 2011

Top Ten Ways Americans are Getting Squeezed

1. Why have grocery costs grown so high? Just normal inflation right? Think again. How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis Goldman Sachs and other bankers are gaming the system, driving the costs of commodities higher and higher with a derivative they made up just for this purpose “the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index”…just to make themselves more money.

In 1991, Goldman bankers came up with a new kind of investment product, a derivative that tracked 24 raw materials, from precious metals and energy to coffee, cocoa, cattle, corn, hogs, soy, and wheat to be known henceforth as the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI). For just under a decade, the GSCI remained a relatively static investment vehicle. Then, in 1999, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission deregulated futures markets. Bankers recognized a good system when they saw it, and dozens of speculative non-physical hedgers followed Goldman’s lead and joined the commodities index game, including Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Pimco, JP Morgan Chase, AIG, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers “You had people who had no clue what commodities were all about suddenly buying commodities,” an analyst from the United States Department of Agriculture told me.
In the first 55 days of 2008, speculators poured $55 billion into commodity markets, and by July, $318 billion was roiling the markets. Food inflation has remained steady since.
Hard red spring wheat, which usually trades in the $4 to $6 dollar range per 60-pound bushel, broke all previous records as the futures contract climbed into the teens and kept on going until it topped $25. And so, from 2005 to 2008, the worldwide price of food rose 80 percent — and has kept rising.
2. Why does it cost so much to fill the gas tank? Must be Peak Oil right?
  • How Koch Became An Oil Speculation Powerhouse From Inventing Oil Derivatives To Deregulating The Market – October 6, 1986: First oil derivative is introduced to Wall Street by traders at Koch. Koch Industries executive Lawrence Kitchen devised the “first ever oil-indexed price swap between Koch Industries and Chase Manhattan Bank. “Documents reveal that Koch is also participating in the unregulated derivatives markets as a financial player, buying and selling speculative products that are increasingly contributing to the skyrocketing price of oil.gas prices Excessive energy speculation today is at its highest levels ever, and even Goldman Sachs now admits that at least $27 of the price of crude oil is a result from reckless speculation rather than market fundamentals of supply and demand. Many experts interviewed by ThinkProgress argue that the figure is far higher, and out of control speculation has doubled the current price of crude oil. “
  • U.S. Oil Exports Reach Record Highs; That’s Right…Exports
3. Why are my heating bills so out of control? See above.
4. Why do my kid’s clothes and everythingelse  cost so much these days? – See 1 & 2 above. The price of commodities and oil have a huge ripple effect, forcing everyone’s costs and prices up, driving inflation across the board.

5. Why do I have to keep scraping by every month to pay for ever increasing health insurance costs?

Record Profits Don’t Stop Health Insurer’s Record Rate Hikes. The absurd cost of healthcare is not open for discussion on our public airwaves. Some typical costs: $30,000 – $56,000 for a weekend stay in the hospital for tests only- no surgery. Another bill for $97,000 for a three day stay. The corporate media has made sure that all discussion of health care be about insurance- these ridiculous costs are never addressed. The obvious truth is that Health Care for profit is not working. Remove the profit from the equation and we will return to a humane system.
And people are going bankrupt and losing their houses, or dying because they can’t afford the bill, families break apart from the financial stress, and for what, or actually who…
CEOs explore new depths of satanic greed
George Paz – CEO of Express Scripts, Healthcare
Compensation: $51.5million
Net Income: $1.29billion
Stephen Hemsley- CEO of UnitedHealth Group
Compensation: $48.8million
Net Income: $4.93billion
6. Why am I so sick in the first place?
Maybe it has something to do with who they are hiring at the government agencies that are supposed to protect our health?? Well Look who was hired to plan implementation of new food safety legislation at the Food and Drug Administration… Monsanto’s man Taylor returns to FDA in food-czar role
Monsanto Exec / Gov’t Official “pulls strings” to get neuro-toxin approved as a food additive- makes millions.
And clearly the Center for Disease Control has been looking out for our safety CDC Director Arrested for Child Molestation and Bestiality
7. Are your water rates going through the roof?

It’s not just your town- it’s global. Even with global warming/ God’s wrath and worldwide flooding- incredibly, there is also a worldwide drought. Don’t question the logic, just shut up and pay your bills.. is the subliminal message the corporate media pushes everyday.
8. Why is there a “housing crisis”?
  • Goldman Sachs on mortgage crisis: ‘Serious money’ to be made
  • Goldman Sachs Misled Congress After Duping Clients Over CDOs … Goldman sold AAA bonds they knew were “sacks of shit”, then shorted the bonds. The bonds were MBS- mortage back securities, mortgages, thousands of family homes. The more people that lose their homes, the more money Goldman makes. GoldMansacks appears to be trying desperately to snatch the most evil company award from Monsanto, as if they’ll get a prize.
  • The case against Goldman Sachs
  • Banks That Created Fake Demand Made Financial Crisis Much Worse – A ProPublica analysis published this week examines the extent of the “fake demand” created by major banks that sold lucrative mortgage-backed securities, and how the institutions fueled the economic crisis with their self-dealing
  • The Great Looting: Homeowners, Pensioners Robbed by Wall Street; Congress MIA - There is no doubt, the ‘foreclosure crisis’ was an engineered fraud enabling the banksters to scam money on both sides of the equation.
    Related: New Banking Chairman says Washington is there “to serve the banks“. Rep. wants foreclosure investigation to ignore robo-signer controversy.
    They used predatory lending practices to encourage people to get loans they couldn’t afford. They even cold-called people to get them to refinance a house that was already paid in full. Now a few years later they are trying to snatch that house out from under the family that has lived there for generations. And they did it on purpose! This happened over and over again. Why? The “securitization of loans” deal that allow the banks to bundle the bad loans, intentionally mislabel them AAA, then sell them to pension funds and other duped investors. Millions have lost big money in their pension funds because these fraudsters blatantly stole their money and the government did nothing about it.
9. Why are my electricity rates going through the roof?

10.  False Scarcity- Where did all the money go?

Across Europe countries are going “bankrupt” and governments are pushing bailouts and “austerity” measures on their citizens, stealing their retirement, enacting pay cuts, service cuts, all so they can pay the banksters interest. How are all of these major countries going bankrupt at the same time? Where did all the money go? In fact, there is no money shortage- these countries aren’t bankrupt- the governments and banksters have pilferred the treasuries and are now blaming it on the populace. For instance, here in America Senate Leader Bill Frist’s family business, Billion $$ behemoth Columbia Healthcare paid a $2 billion settlement for overcharging medicare… but nobody went to prison, and Columbia still has gov’t contracts. They stole our money, and got away with it.
Almost half the $14 trillion debt is owed to the Federal Reserve, which is a consortium of private banks- ie half of America’s debt is to the  banksters that created the crisis in the first place.
This a worldwide brawl for the future of the planet. The worldwide 99% needs the US 99% to step up and fight.
Your house, food, gas, heat, health care, electricity, water- all of your major bills are being jacked by just a few of the 1%. Americans are being squeezed from every direction, deliberately. It truly is about The Fall of the Republic. That’s their goal here in America, where do you stand?
Sheep with bucket on head
V the revolutionary
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Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The questing before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.
Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.
I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free-- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending--if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained--we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!
They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.
It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Copyright 1995-1999,Jawaid Bazyar

Fraud-o-rama USA And the guy who got shot down trying to stop it

10 Strategies to Cope with Absurd Housing Costs

George Ure and Gaye Levy, Contributors
Activist Post

Despite lots of discussion, and claims by political figures that things have “leveled off” or are even about to turn upward, there are a number of housing-related news items lately that regrettably seem to indicate that the “worst is not yet over” in terms of the Housing Crisis in general, or the closely aligned Banking Crisis.

Touching on the banking sector first, we note that with the most recent (through 10/21/2011) data, the FDIC has now closed down or reorganized away 403 banks and bank holding companies since the Indy Mac issue began the Second Depression’s banking disaster in July of 2008, preceding the collapse of the stock and credit market synchronize “swan dive” by about 90-days.

Since that watershed event, our latest count shows 83 banks have been reorganized so far this year, down from 139 year-to-date in 2010. Still, a total of 6,068 individual branch locations have been involved.
Even with all the change in the banking industry, which is certainly consolidating in a never before seen way, the availability of funds to refinance upside down homeowners has remained elusive. Despite Obama administration hopes that more than one million homeowners would participate, the numbers are still very thin.

Strategy One: If you still own a home, and particularly if you’re “upside down” – owing more on your mortgage than the property is worth – it’s best to be proactive and start the search for refinancing well ahead of need. With today’s low rates and some federal programs in place, there’s no time like the present to be shopping for a better deal. The federal government’s USA.GOV site has a list of resources which may lead to some relief.

Strategy Two: Keep an eye on the monthly Case Shiller/S&P 20-City Housing Index. This data, updated monthly, has long been one of George’s most quoted housing reports on the site because it’s as even-handed a report as can be found on what the real price movements are in key markets.

What you can see, by looking at the most recent data (which covers through August by the way, these things take time to work up) what you’ll see is that housing seems to have leveled off a bit, but that said, prices are still down a bit more than 4% this year, compared with last:

6282982023 e88ce28080 10 Strategies to Cope with Absurd Housing Costs
The chart above depicts the annual returns of the 10-City and the 20-City Composite Home Price Indices.

In August 2011, the 10- and 20-City Composites recorded annual returns of -3.5% and -3.8%, respectively. Both Composites and 16 MSAs – Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, and Washington DC – saw their annual rates improve in August compared to July.

This is not a very hopeful report, since summertime is historically when the highest rates of real estate sales occur. School’s out, so getting the kids into a new school in time for fall classes seems to drive many parents, but with moderately even curricula across states, and even the country to some level, moving kids should not be thought of as an insurmountable problem.

If your move involves one of the 20 cities in the Case Shiller/S&P data, it’s a good idea to see how your market compares with others around the country; the objective being to sell high in the market you’re leaving (if it’s even, or up) and buy low in your “landing” city where prices may be even more depressed.

Strategy Three: Keep an eye on the longer term trends in prices since we may be approaching an ideal time to buy a low-cost rental home. In many cities, bank repos and government foreclosure auctions can lead to real bargains. Another angle to play is buying tax foreclosure properties. In some states, the original property owner can reclaim the property within two years of the tax sale, but the new owner has to be compensated their costs plus a percentage of the tax sales price (which may be 18% per year) in order to reclaim the property. After that, there’s no recourse for the former owner.

This is not to recommend every young family pick up a couple of rental homes, although they can, over time, become real dependable cash flow generators and even do better than traditional savings plans for children’s college funds and other long-term investments.

The downside is that tenants can be destructive and abusive, plus squatting is a constant problem. In addition, rents are seriously depressed in the current economy. Horror stories of renters smearing feces on windowsills and walking out with appliances in the middle of the night are oftentimes true. But, as with any other business deal, you can moderate risk by doing a lot of homework, and this means spending time to bone up on landlord tenant laws and doing thorough background checks on prospective tenants. Don’t forget, former landlords may lie just to get rid of a bad tenant. Many large cities have landlord associations and offer background checking services for a fee.

Strategy Four: If you’re looking to cut costs, and you’re either single, or a couple -- look into renting a room in someone’s home. This may seem like it would be a “hard sell” but it’s not. The reason is simple: Many of the Baby Boomer’s who thought they would be retiring later are under increasing economic pressure to pay off their home loans – many of which are refi’s – early. To approach a homeowner is not terribly difficult.

In the Seattle area (the former stomping ground for both of us), we know from current examples in our circles of friends, that a good-sized room with shared kitchen privileges can be had in a decent setting for as little as $300 per month. Think of it as “going back to college” for a little more dorm time. Leads can be picked up off Craigslist, local supermarket bulletin boards and so forth. It’s a good idea to have a “reference list” of past places you’ve stayed, with current working phone numbers so that a homeowner can “check you out.” Often, there’s some light housekeeping involved, but for a roof overhead in winter, who’s to complain?

Strategy Five:  Consider renting someone’s boat. This might seem a bit far-fetched at first blush, but there are many boat owners who are just barely able to hang on to their boats. The reason is the marina rents nationally have not come down as quickly as demand would warrant. The reason: cities and municipalities own marinas in many areas.

One way to come up with leads is to put up a “live aboard wanted” sign in the local marina offices and see if the folks at the local West Marine store can help you. Sometimes a boat may be found by talking with members of sailing clubs, and look at the boats for sale columns in publications like 48 North in the Pacific Northwest, Latitude 38 from northern California south.

The East Coast is a more fractured market. But, in all markets you may approach yacht brokers and offer them a cut of the rent if you can afford $350 a month – many will find customers with boats unlikely to sell until spring and that can buy you some breathing room.

Strategy Six: RV’s are becoming super bargains, but they will keep getting cheaper. Hit Ebay and click on the “Ebay Motors” tab, and then look for “Other Vehicle” and then down to the RV’s and campers listings. The best “bang for the buck” is in 10+ year-old gas powered rigs which admittedly don’t get good gasoline mileage. But check out the cost: RV’s are getting much less expensive.

We recently saw a small 22-foot Class C rig with 80,000 miles on it, but a serviceable interior for two go for just $1,300. Yes, it had some leaks and other issues, but a motivated buyer with $50 could have made it quite nice for another $50 worth of elastomeric roofing goo. A bit more upscale, a 98 diesel Fleetwood 37-foot pusher rig for about $22,000 and this was a diesel in good shape at 105,000 miles.

Strategy Seven: Off-season resorts may be “sleepers.” George & Elaine were in Branson, Missouri, a popular entertainment destination where three months out of the year things are really hopping. But come fall and into early spring, there are lots of bargains to be found while reading the local papers. Many hotels have both low-cost, long-term guest rates and many duplex and triplex owners would rather rent for something rather than have a unit sit vacant all winter.

Thanks to the Internet, you can find the winter-over places that make sense pretty easily. $350 a month seemed to be the going rate for off-season middle-lower accommodations in the Branson area, but we expect many resort areas will have off-season, 6-month leases as the economy continues to tighten.

Think of this as counter-season leasing: Leave when the tourists come and return when they’re gone!

George & Elaine are heading up to Branson, Missouri in a couple of weeks, and they’ve kicked around living in Branson part time because there are some really nice waterfront spots along the eastern side of the city. Six months ago, prices were in the $400-$500 range for two bedrooms, furnished with some utilities.

A check of weather in such places is worthwhile. Leases are cheap in Florida in the summertime and cheap in Maine in winter. Locals have told us Branson and some of those idyllic spots in the Ozarks get fierce ice storms, so you’ll need to pick and choose. Summers in Hawaii aren’t bad, especially on the windward side of the Big Island – Hilo isn’t nearly as expensive as Honolulu.

Strategy Eight: House sitting is not entirely out of vogue. A few calls to real estate operations, and some creative sales pitches may land you a very low-cost home for several months. The key parts of the pitch include reliability, the value of having “owner’s eyes” on the property and surroundings, and don’t forget your bio with current reference contact information. High-end homes are particularly vulnerable to theft of high-end appliances and your pitch might be something like this: I will pay you $300 per month and watch to make sure you don’t get a $5,000 property loss.

There are several channels to be pursued here: A constant scan of Craigslist for situation, phone calls to local real estate outfits, especially workable after an outbreak of appliance and copper thefts from upscale homes. And just calling people with “For Sale by Owner” (FSBO) signs out front.

Strategy Nine: Visit which is one of the nation’s largest sellers of non-urban real estate specializing in farms and ranch lands. When you get to their search tool, put in a minimum of 1 bedroom and a maximum of $50,000 and you’ll be surprised what you can find. Most of these properties are rural, but if you can find an inexpensive home with good Internet connectivity, being a part-time farmer/prepper and “click ranching” as a customer service rep using a telephone and a computer is not a bad way to live. It’s often much cheaper than life in a dense and expensive urban setting.

In some parts of the country you can get amazing home values. A little time on the computer and even a job with $10 an hour begins to make sense. Why? That’s $20,800 per year and if you have that kind of income, odds are good you can swing some kind of ultra-low (or no) down payment. That would mean with typical taxes about $345 per month for the house and land, a tax break if you farm a bit, a place to live, and a much more laid-back lifestyle.

We recently saw a 4.78 acre property with a livable home on, adjacent to a national forest in Oklahoma (land and homes are ridiculously cheap there) for just $45,000. That included a stocked pond, mountain views, a remodeled mobile home with two living areas plus abundant wildlife.

Find the school bus driving job to beef up a retirement, remembering you’ll need to pass a drug test to pass a commercial driver’s license (C DL) and then put in DSL. It’s a whole lifestyle choice for all ages: Retirement, farming – without click ranch.

Strategy Ten: Leave America and head for somewhere completely different. For example, we’ve heard from some expatriates (“expats” is what they’re known as) that they have been able to buy first-class three- and four-bedroom villas in overbuilt Spanish subdivisions for as little as USD$ 23,000. Similarly, we have readers in places such as Bolivia and Ecuador in South America that tell us that retired life there is a breeze IF you have taken the time to invest in learning a foreign language.

Curiously, research shows that learning new languages is easiest when you’re either very young OR when you are in the 60+ category. No, we have no idea why that it. A way to get “opened up” to exiting the USA is to drop by the Escape from America website and look around there and then join some Yahoo Groups on specific countries. Because most countries have income requirements that must be met in order to get long-term visitation permission, that limits this option somewhat, although for retired military and people on dependable retirements – or even click ranchers – this is a very desirable alternative to consider.

There are plenty of other ways to get around being out in the cold. Author Mike Oehlers The Fifty Dollar and Up Underground House Book will give you plenty of ideas which may be implemented for almost no cost. A shovel, some plastic grocery bags and maybe a pond liner and if you can find a place out of the way enough, you can dig in (literally!) and add value to some land.

Of course, with government regulations a lot of this might be best done under the radar of officialdom. Renting out a room in your home may subject you to building code and tax laws. Living on a boat may violate “living aboard rules” enacted back in the roaring '90s. RV parking isn’t free, although Wal-Mart has really carved out a loyal following in RV circles because the allow overnighting in their parking lots at many locations.

Remember, I.R.S. doesn’t take kindly to people who skin-flint their taxes even though they have moved overseas. They may hold to 10-year tax liability laws, though getting your hosting offshore and email, too, is not entirely out of the question is you’re an enterprising click-rancher.

Bonus Strategy: Take advantage of hard times and see if now might be the time to buy a distressed business. Often, when times get tough, spousal issues pop up, people move around, and occasionally you’ll see tremendous business ownership opportunities.

As an example: One of George’s clients sold his business about three years ago. George had counseled him on timing and what he wanted to do with his cash out sale. The client, wisely, bought a fine farm (larger than 10 acres) and put most of his money into gold and silver. He’s done very well for himself.

But now comes the interesting part: He’s just learned that the person who bought the business has lost it to the bank. A franchise agreement has been broken, and now George’s client is in the “cat bird seat” – and may be able to get back into his former business, without the profit-and-loss load of a hefty franchise fee, and still be able to keep his rural home. His cost may be only a few thousand dollars out of pocket.

That’s not going to happen often but it only takes one of two deals like that falling into your lap over the course of a lifetime to get you to the point where you will own your own patch of dirt free and clear.

The main thing to remember is that even in a period of serious economic downturn, there’s always opportunity for the prepared mind that has a set outcome in mind. If you focus on owning your own home, a life of sufficiency, and the health and a happy partner to share it with, then it’s as good as done.

Just takes a little work to usher it in, is all. That’s what strategic living is all about.

Hang on and enjoy the ride

Introducing Strategic-Living: a practical and useful online magazine providing inspiration and guidance as we make our way through the maze of changes that are coming our way. In collaboration with my friend and colleague, George Ure, Strategic-Living will offer a synthesis of Urban Survival and Backdoor Survival with much more detailed tips, tools and strategies for creating a vibrant and sustainable lifestyle wherever your path may take you. Think of Urban Survival and Backdoor Survival as your roadmap and Strategic-Living as your detailed guidebook. Here you will find articles and photos, diagrams and how-to’s, and a healthy dose get-out-there and do it with kick-in-the-ass inspiration.

Occupy Baltimore Wins Support of Police and Fire Fighters Unions

Occupy Baltimore Wins Support of Police and Fire Fighters Unions

Hopefully Police Will Conclude They CANNOT Just Go Around Using Tear Gas...

The European Bailout Explained

Food for thought

The folks at the USDA released their projections for 2011/2012-food price inflation. The bad news is that feeding ourselves will cost ~4% more in 2011. The good news is that USDA thinks prices will rise only ~2.5% next year.

I shop (I hate it). My food inflation is closer to 10%. It depends on what you eat. For example, from the report:

Meats, poultry and fish +6%
Seafood +6.5%
Beef +9%
Fresh vegetables +5%
Cooking oils +7.5%

These items are all well above the average set by the USDA. The following kept the index low:

Processed vegetables +1.5%
Beverages +2%

After looking at this I loaded up on canned peas and Coke.

There’s other information at the site I thought was interesting. For example, what’s your guess on the amount spent for food prepared at home and the amount spent on eating out?

Answer: 52% is prepared at home, 48% is purchased and eaten onsite or taken home. Half of what we eat is “out”. I find that to be a surprisingly high number. Behind that 50-50 ratio is, no doubt, the problem with diabetes and obesity.

If you were wondering how the restaurant-bar business did during the depression the USDA has the numbers. My conclusion is that depressions are very bad for eating establishments. It takes a long time for a real recovery in spending habits. It’s also clear that wars are very good for the restaurant biz.

The “eat out” numbers did fall in 2009. But they recovered in 10’ and are headed higher again in 11’. We had recession. A big one. But consumers barely batted an eye. I’m surprised at this result.

The At Home and Away total 2010 food bill came to $1.2T. That makes eating the largest industry in America.

In 1930 19% of all food consumed was Produced at Home. By 1960 that percentage had fallen to 6%. In 2010 it was only 1.6%. While this trend is not surprising, the magnitude of the drop is worth noting. At one time we were a nation of gardeners, today we just do ‘drive through’.

The food we eat makes us sick. The 2010 estimate for food related illnesses came in at a lumpy 76,000,000 people (About ¼ of us get sick every year). These illnesses caused 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. The economic costs of these illnesses came to $152 billion. In other words, the bad food we eat cost us significantly more in 2010 than the combined operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s not surprising that the US pays less for food as a percentage of income than any other country. But the comparisons are still interesting. The US spends 6.5% of disposable income for food. Poorer countries like Nigeria, Kenya and Cameroon are forced to pay ~45% of incomes to put food on the table. The high population countries are as follows:

Vietnam = 38%
Indonesia = 32%
India = 28%
China = 22%

I find these numbers troubling. There is only one direction for them to go. The developing countries with big populations will see greater gains in income, with that will lead to increased food consumption. Approximately 30% of income goes to food in these areas.  It’s hard not to see that this is going to push up the prices the globe pays for everything we eat.

For example, the USDA put the per person food cost in China at $129 in 2000. Today that number is $360 (280% increase). Over the same period the USA consumption increased only 42%.

It’s old news that China and the other big/fast growing populations are consuming an ever-increasing amount of the world's supply. But these numbers are scary big. If the underlying trends continue (why would they not?) then we are headed into supply problems that can only mean rapidly rising prices.

This conclusion gets back to the beginning. Food inflation in America is running today at 5+%. The USDA says the inflation will moderate next year. This is more government hopium. I’ll take the “over” on their numbers. In my view rapid increases over the next decade are baked in the cake.

The most regressive economic consequence is for food inflation to take place. We have 45mm Americans on food stamps and tens of millions of others on the edge. I find it ironic that the Federal Reserve excludes food inflation when setting monetary policy. While the Fed can’t be blamed for rising food cost, they are most certainly stoking the fires.

Bernanke has said he wants to contain inflation (excluding food and energy) at less than 2%. Food inflation is running at double his target. Possibly Ben needs a new Mandate.

"We Were Peaceful" Occupy Denver Protesters Explain What Happened On Oct...

Ore. police arrest 30 Wall Street protesters

Police in Oregon arrested about 30 anti-Wall Street protesters early Sunday, dragging and carrying them to waiting vans, after they refused to leave a park in an affluent district.
In Tennessee, protesters defied a curfew for a third consecutive night
The arrests in Oregon came during a week of clashes between police and demonstrators supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement that led to arrests in Oakland and San Diego, California; Atlanta; Denver, and Nashville, Tennessee.
In Oregon, protesters from the Occupy Portland movement marched to the Pearl District, with some saying they viewed its residents as part of the wealthy demographic they're protesting.

Dozens of them gathered in Jamison Square on Saturday evening to defy a midnight curfew to vacate.
Feeding the movement: How Occupy protesters are eating As police moved in, most of the protesters backed off but a core group of about 30 sat in a circle in the park and awaited arrest.
An Associated Press photographer said most of the protesters were carried or dragged away. There was no violence during the arrests, which took about 90 minutes.
The protesters — all appearing to be in their 20s and 30s with many were wearing Halloween-style face paint — were handcuffed before they were placed in police vans and driven off.
"We are the 99 percent," one arrestee continued to chant.
Data: Occupy Wall Street (on this page) Police said they arrested more than two dozen people on charges that included criminal trespassing, interfering with a police officer, and disorderly conduct. The showdown came in the shadow of high-rise condos in the middle of the Pearl District, with some residents watching the events from their balconies.
In Tennessee, about 50 demonstrators in Nashville chanted "Whose plaza? Our plaza!" early Sunday in defiance of an official curfew.
Police sporadically made their rounds, but authorities signaled no immediate attempt to make arrests as law enforcement agents had done on the two previous nights.
Elizabeth Sharpe, 20, took part Sunday and said she was inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement after seeing a 2003 documentary called "The Corporation." She said she felt the need to be an activist in the movement that expresses opposition to perceived greed on Wall Street and across corporate America.
Image: Arrested protesters lie face down on the Legislative Plaza in Nashville, Tenn.
Erik Schelzig  /  AP
Arrested protesters lie face down on the Legislative Plaza in Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday, while state troopers wait to process them and place them on a bus.
"How can I as an individual change this?" she asked, speaking with an Associated Press reporter. With the Occupy moment's far-flung reach across American cities, she said she felt there was strength in numbers, adding, ""I got for the first time a glimpse of hope."
Some danced to keep warm on a chilly morning and others shivered in the frosty air, huddling under blankets.
The protesters have been galvanized by the friction between state officials and the local magistrate.
Nashville magistrate Tom Nelson has said recently that there's no legal reason in his city to keep the demonstrators behind bars and he has released them after each arrest. He has refused each night to sign off on arrest warrants for more than two dozen people taken into custody.
In Denver on Saturday evening, authorities moved into an encampment of protesters and began arresting demonstrators just hours after a standoff near the steps of the Colorado Capitol turned into a skirmish that ended in police firing rounds of pellets filled with pepper spray.
© 2011

Top US foreclosure law firm threw Halloween party where staff dressed as homeless, foreclosed-upon Americans

From a NYT opinion piece by Joe Nocera, "What the Costumes Reveal"—

On Friday, the law firm of Steven J. Baum threw a Halloween party. The firm, which is located near Buffalo, is what is commonly referred to as a “foreclosure mill” firm, meaning it represents banks and mortgage servicers as they attempt to foreclose on homeowners and evict them from their homes. Steven J. Baum is, in fact, the largest such firm in New York; it represents virtually all the giant mortgage lenders, including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.
The party is the firm’s big annual bash. Employees wear Halloween costumes to the office, where they party until around noon, and then return to work, still in costume. I can’t tell you how people dressed for this year’s party, but I can tell you about last year’s.
That’s because a former employee of Steven J. Baum recently sent me snapshots of last year’s party. In an e-mail, she said that she wanted me to see them because they showed an appalling lack of compassion toward the homeowners — invariably poor and down on their luck — that the Baum firm had brought foreclosure proceedings against.
I'm not one to incite illegal activity, but christ, guys: if there were ever a house that deserved T-P-ing on Halloween? This firm's headquarters is it. May not be justice, but it's a start.
Read the rest, and see all the photos, here. (via Chris Hayes)

Occupy Wall Street: Outing the Ringers